Pei Modern has been the talk of the town since its opening as the men behind this little gem Mark Best (Marque Sydney), David Mackintosh (Movida) and Peter Bartholomew (Movida) put their best efforts in to create a classy environment with fine foods and service no one can beat. It’s no wonder Pei Modern has won ‘Best Maitre of the Year’ from Gourmet Traveller and earned its ‘Best New Restaurant’ status in the Good Food Guide 2013. I Had a taste of this wonderful service first hand and I must say I was impressed.
I’ve been wanting to blog about Pei Modern ever since I dined there a few weeks ago but I just haven’t had the time. To celebrate the coming of Spring in Melbourne, there was an event called the ‘Spring Graze’ that was on throughout the month of September and many restaurants participated by offering lamb dishes (apparently the best during Spring) and other Spring related dishes at a reasonable or discounted price. Pei Modern was one of them.
Winnie and I went there for a catch up while I was completely oblivious to Pei Modern’s participation in the event. Winnie even ordered the lamb dish but paid full price for it because if you order it at the discounted price, you will have to eat and leave within 45 minutes. That’s no where near enough for us to chit chat since it took us around 2 hours to finish our meal.
We were early for our meal and were first seated in the bar area to wait for our table to be ready. I liked the modern decor in both sections of the restaurant, the bar area looked almost like a sauna room to me but was still quite appealing with the wooden roof boards and slightly more casual feel. It seems quite popular with afterwork drinks and a quick catchup from local white collars.
During our wait, I decided to order a latte to kick start the evening but before I even received my drink we were moved to our table in the dining area. The dining area had a classic bistro feel with its retro white chairs, no tablecloths and open kitchen for gawking but I felt the service here was nothing short of fine dining.
My coffee was smooth and aromatic, although not best in town, it was enough to satisfy my caffeine cravings.
The complimentary bread we received was patiently explained to us as house made sour dough and house churned butter and came in the cutest cloth pouch I’ve ever laid eyes on (that had anything to do with bread anyway). It looked almost like the bread was being nursed in a baby’s cap.
The bread was perfectly fluffy and delicious while the butter was smooth and creamy. With the addition of the pink sea salt, I was in bread heaven. I love a good piece of bread to salivate my senses but I often eat way too much of it and don’t have enough room for the food. Lucky I only ate 1 piece that night.
The maitre came around to every single table in the dining area to explain the menu. How often do you get that? He sat down beside me, told us what the specials were and proceeded to the next table. I’m sure that move generated a big tick when Gourmet Traveller was deciding on the maitre of the year awards.
The special entree of the day sounded very tempting for Winnie and I and we decided to share one between us. It was a Dutch potato, butter Spanish air dried tuna dish with bone marrow sauce and a sprinkle of coffee. I had to ask the waiter twice for the name of the dish because there was just so many elements involved. I’m quite certain I missed a thing or 2 again here. Although it’s meant to be a special, it seems to be gaining fame so they should really just put it onto the regular menu.
The potatoes were split into 2 portions for us when it was brought out from the kitchen, each neatly presented in white bowls, knowing that we were going to share. Another huge tick in the service department. The potatoes were so creaming and delicious I couldn’t stop licking my lips. The portion wasn’t big as it was split in 2 but it was enough to get us started. I could distinctly taste the bone marrow in the sauce which I loved and the sprinkle of coffee added a wonderful aroma to finish it off.
Winnie ordered the Salt-crusted Swede Riverina Lamb & Fine Onion Tart ($32) which was a star dish. The lamb was perfectly tender and tasty, pairing well with the sweet potato and other elements.
The onion tart was delicious with its wonderful seasoning and crunchy pastry, although the appearance wasn’t what we expected.
I ordered the Roast Rabbit, Saltbush, Wakame & Mildura J.A’s ($35) which I also loved. I don’t usually order rabbit but it sounded appetising on the menu. The rabbit was very tender and succulent while the greens and potatoes provided a good harmony for the dish. Although I did feel the overall dish lacked a bit of depth so I much preferred the lamb dish over this one.
To finish off the great meal, we decided to share a dessert. The one that jumped out at us was the caramelised tomato stuffed with 12 flavours and star anise ice cream ($17). It definitely sounded very interesting but Winnie and I both felt it wasn’t something we’d normally order or particularly liked. The flavours were quite intense with the notable cinnamon, star anise and other spices. It was a little bit too much for my palate but was definitely an eye opener. Apparently this dish has been taken straight from Marque in Sydney.
Overall we had an enjoyable night, made even better by the great service and mostly delicious dishes. I thought the portion sizes were a little small for the prices but not enough to make much of a difference. The team at Pei Modern has done a great job thus far and deserves all the awards it has won.
Question time: What dish do you enjoy the most in Spring time? Did you manage to visit one of the ‘Spring Graze’ restaurants when the event was on?
If you missed the Spring Graze this year, it will be on again next time during the month of September.
Phone: (03) 9654 8545
45 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000